Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Ad Imaginem Dei: a gem of a blog on Christian art

By Thomas V. Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 28, 2015

Readers who wish for an entry point into the vast (and sometimes intimidating) domain of Catholic sacred art may want to take a look at Margaret Duffy's blog, Ad Imaginem Dei.

The blog, which has been active since 2008, focuses on Western Christian art, taking liturgical readings as a starting point and using them to introduce various works of art connected to them. In addition, Duffy writes more generally about the relationship between faith and art.

She also provides information on current art exhibits, particularly in her home of New York City. Duffy has a master's degree in art history and has worked as a researcher in a major art gallery and an educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, so she is eminently qualified to write on these topics.

Since classic works of Catholic art can often seem opaque to those without sufficient training to understand the symbolism used in past eras, I find Duffy's close attention to symbolism and explaining historical context to be the most useful aspect of her blog.

In the blog's description, Duffy quotes the Church Father St. John Damascene in defense of religious images:

Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was never depicted. Now, however, when God is seen clothed in flesh, and conversing with men, (Bar. 3.38) I make an image of the God whom I see. I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake, and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter.

Religious art, then, is a legitimate and even necessary way of forming the Christian imagination.

To get started, try her article comparing and contrasting a portrait of St. Thomas More with one of Thomas Cromwell, or one of her installments on the art of the Annunciation.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Dec. 10, 2016 2:32 PM ET USA

    Your point is well made. I was once told by a priest that things aren't black and white but are shades of gray. If he represents most priests then perhaps your example is too black vs white. Can you add some gray to your example please. LOL

  • Posted by: MatJohn - Dec. 09, 2016 6:54 PM ET USA

    Phil, your simple hypotheticals lead to a laser-like conclusion that Catholic moral ,teaching can not allow the camel's nose under the tent.